Catholic Parish Hosts Conversion Therapy Group Accused of Abuse

The Advocate

September 29, 2019

By Trudy Ring

Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries has been accused of sexual abuse as well as the other harms associated with conversion therapy.

Some LGBTQ activists are incensed that a Catholic church within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia hosted a presentation by a conversion therapy group that has been accused of sexual abuse — and has admitted to it in at least one case.

Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries, which claims to be able to turn LGBTQ people straight or cisgender, was part of a daylong conference on sexual and gender identity held at St. Katharine of Siena Parish in Wayne, Pa., in early September. While the Catholic faith considers same-sex relations a sin and gender immutable, it does not generally promote conversion therapy, which is more often associated with fundamentalist Protestant churches. But a few Catholic bodies in the U.S. have hosted conversion therapy groups.

The founder and director of Desert Stream/Living Waters is Andrew Comiskey, who created the group in 1980. He converted to Catholicism a few years ago. Comiskey wrote in a 2010 blog post, uncovered by the LGBTQ group Truth Wins Out, that “a longstanding staff person from Desert Stream had sexually abused at least one teenager who had sought help from us.” The teen’s family sought compensation from Desert Stream/Living Waters, and the group settled with the family after three years of investigations and negotiations, Comiskey wrote.

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